INTERVIEW with SUFFERING HOUR
Today we got to speak with Minnesota’s blackened death metal band Suffering Hour!
MPM: First off, my honor and pleasure to be interviewing your band today. Secondly, those who don’t know the band, could you introduce yourself and contributions to Suffering Hour?
SH: I’m DgS (Dylan). I play bass and do all the vocals as well as writing all of the lyrical compositions. Another contribution of mine worth mentioning is that I handle a lot of the recording and mixing of our releases as well.
MPM: The band recently released the sophomore full-length album The Cyclic Reckoning under Profound Lore Records and I absolutely enjoyed it front to back. Could you give us the process on how the album was made in comparison to your older material?
SH: Cyclic was done in a very similar fashion as the last two releases. YhA (Josh) wrote all the songs and structures and made demos of them from scratch. Then we each separately wrote and recorded our own parts over the course of several months. The biggest difference this time around was me and IsN (Jason) really stepped up our game and creativity with our own parts and contributed a lot more as opposed to staying closer to the demos. We also tracked the drums this time in a really proper high end studio and did a lot of last minute changes to some of the song structures.
MPM: Your band’s currently on Profound Lore Records which is a Canadian based record label specializing in Death, black, doom and experimental metal. How’s the relationship and reception been prior to joining the roster?
SH: Working with Profound Lore has been phenomenal. Chris takes care of everything and gives us 100% freedom with our visions. I think the record got out there and was received extremely well.
MPM: Suffering Hour to me are one of my favorite blackened death metal bands and I love how blackened, technical and dissonant your music is as I get huge influences from Ulcerate, Deathspell Omega, Ad Nauseam and Imperial Triumphant all fantastic bands in that regard. What makes Suffering Hour unique and creative musically that other bands don’t sound like it?
SH: I think first and foremost is just YhAs songwriting and entire approach to guitar and writing riffs. He is always thinking outside of the box and has a super distinct style of playing, tone and vision of how he wants to make music. Then of course IsN’s drumming is absolutely top notch and he has a very signature way of playing and accenting the riffs with impeccable creativity and stamina. I’d like to think I also bring in some elements of our signature sound with my vocals and production style. A big thing for me is to have really unique sounding productions too, with none of our releases sounding the same as eachother or sounding like every other band out there.
MPM: As 2021’s slowly coming back from normalcy and shows are making a return, how exciting is it to see bands coming back on the road after not touring for a whole year?
SH: It’s great to see shit starting back up forsure. I’m stoked to get back out there again. We’re starting to plan some stuff for next year now.
MPM: What songs on The Cyclic Reckoning would you say was the most challenging, but favorable to write in terms of the musicianship and lyrical content?
SH: YhA’s answer would probably be different from his standpoint when he originally wrote these songs but I would say either The Foundations of Servitude or Abrasive Black Dust II were the most challenging and involved tracks on the album. Foundations was difficult just in that it’s a 16 minute piece. Making a song that long to flow naturally without going stale and writing cohesive lyrics with a very specific theme across it was quite the task forsure. Black Dust II and the 4th track- Obscuration also, we ended up changing a lot of things last minute with those ones, so that spontaneity was a cool challenge and a way to mix things up for us. Obscuration also has my favorite bass parts I’ve come up with on it.
MPM: Speaking of lyrical content, I really love how intelligently crafted this album is as I feel a lot of the lyrics reflect on sadness, life and death. What was your inspiration in writing these type of themes for this album?
SH: My inspiration for lyrics almost always comes from within. The bulk of them are all related to some sort of thoughts I’ve had or observations I have made, and struggles I may be dealing with. I don’t seem to take a whole lot of outside influences into my lyrical content. They all deal with themes of personal reflections and awakening, sadness, frustrations, contempt, obsessions and mental struggles- Usually draped in loads of metaphor and through a ton of different lenses.
MPM: Since 2021’s halfway over and many great releases in extreme metal have been released, what are some of your personal favorite albums or ones anticipated for to be coming out?
SH: So far this year there hasn’t really been a ton of super standout releases for me personally. The new Stargazer- Psychic Secretions has been getting a ton of spins. It’s phenomenal, their best one yet. Fuoco Fatuo- Obsidian Katabasis is an absolutely monstrous hellscape. That was the next release Profound Lore put out after ours. Some of the best death/funeral doom I’ve heard in a long time. The new Grave Miasma and Inferno records are both really killer too. Other than that not a whole lot else has really held up for me.
MPM: Suffering Hour’s residing in Minnesota and Colorado according to Metal Archives, how was the transition and communication between you and the band members to make music at such far distance?
SH: Yeah YhA has been living out in CO for like 8 years or something now. It’s been a challenge but we’ve made it work the best we can. Rehearsing has been the biggest setback. Not being able to rehearse on a regular basis really sucks, most of the time what we had to do was have him fly out a week or so before a show or tour and quickly get into playing shape. There were a lot of shows we did where I wasn’t totally satisfied with our performances because we just never really had enough time to get really tight together. The writing/recording process on the other hand, I think we came up with a pretty cool way to do it. At this point though I do believe that process is starting to feel a little stale and lifeless for us. The good news is that YhA will be moved back to MN this fall and we’re going to really change up the way we write with a much more collaborative approach. Then when we start playing shows again next year we’ll come back stronger than ever before.
MPM: What was your biggest motivation in life to be a musician and starting a band to play extreme metal?
SH: That’s kind of a hard question to answer at this point for me. I can’t really recall any super specific moment or thing that made me decide to do music. I just got extremely obsessed with it back in my early teens and naturally wanted to start playing and start a band. I think I decided to play bass just because everyone else was doing guitar or drums it seemed. Steve Harris from Iron Maiden was probably my biggest motivation in the beginning.
MPM: Since you primarily do bass and vocals, were you self taught and learned every piece of instrument or did you take private lessons to pick up and get better as years go by?
SH: I did take some bass lessons for a little while when I was really young. I never really took it very seriously though. I’ve dabbled with drums and guitar a lot too but I’ve always been more focused on being creative as opposed to technically proficient. Really early on I actually became a lot more enamored with recording music. I admittedly have never been a very naturally talented musician and I’ve spent a ton more time learning and practicing audio production. When we started getting serious with SH though I started honing my bass skills more and developing a vocal style in my own way.
MPM: What’s your overall stance in the underground metal scene and do you keep up-to-date with what’s going on currently in the community?
SH: I still pay attention here and there. I mostly just have a small handful of labels and artists I follow closely and check out what they’re releasing. A huge majority of stuff I hear nowadays bores the shit out of me honestly, finding new bands is not near as exciting as it used to be. There are so many bands out there, especially in the death metal world, rehashing the same shit over and over it’s getting ridiculous. Granted, there still are some bands coming out that are doing super cool shit too. Bands that bring in a lot of outside influences and make genuinely unique and meaningful music. They’re just always overshadowed by whatever bands are doing the “hype” and “cool” thing.
MPM: If Suffering Hour were to create the ultimate dream lineup tour of active bands in the metal world, whom you would bring on stage?
SH: Opening up the Mercyful Fate reunion shows! Hahaha, have Volahn and Negative Plane play too.
MPM: When shows were still around, do you prefer playing clubs or small festivals?
SH: I like doing both. Fests especially though are always a great time. We’ll usually go and hang out for a couple days and it can be a great weekend getaway when we’re just doing one offs. Touring can be a lot more grueling but also rewarding in it’s own ways.
MPM: Lastly, I like to thank you for your time in going over this interview with me. I really appreciate the time and privilege to be a fan of Suffering Hour’s music and I hope to catch your band live in the foreseeable future. Do you have any last words, advice or wanting to say anything before wrapping up?
SH: Keep your eyes out for our next release, a 12” split with Malthusian on Invictus Productions sometime early next year. We’ll also be getting back out there doing shows again in 2022. Cheers man!
Interview by Jake Butler